Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments in Chicago, had a very simple question for attendees at Pensions & Investments' 12th annual West Coast Defined Contribution Conference, held Nov. 1-3 in San Francisco.
“How many people in this audience whittle in their spare time,” she asked. “You know, from that woodshop class you took (in high school) that has been so important to your life.”
With that, Ms. Hobson illustrated what she sees as a big problem not only facing the entire country but the money management and retirement industry in the U.S. Financial illiteracy.
“In this country, we don't learn about investing in school,” she said. “It always amazes me that in high school in America today you can take auto and wood shop but not a class on investing.”
Over the last several years, Ms. Hobson has become a nationally-recognized voice on financial literacy and investor education. A regular financial contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and spokesperson for the annual Ariel/Schwab Investor Survey that examines the investing habits of black and white Americans, Ms. Hobson has been pushing hard to improve the financial education of Americans, particularly minorities.
In her address at the conference, Ms. Hobson highlighted some of the statistics that illustrate the gap between the savings habits of black and white Americans, the broader financial illiteracy of the populace and some of the steps that Ariel is taking to address these issues.
Click below to hear Ms. Hobson's full address.